Following a Person, not just a path

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So, what does this entail when Jesus says, “Follow me?” Is it taking a path somewhere unknown, but a good path? How far do I need to go down this path? What if it gets a little rocky or steep? Is it a simple click, like being a follower on Twitter or Instagram: one click to follow and another click to “unfollow?” There is a conversation in the New Testament (Luke 9:57-62) worth checking out, between Jesus and some hopeful followers. The exchange is challenging, making me a little uncomfortable, but at the same time, it reminds me that others, even back then, had the same worries, entanglements and obstacles to following Jesus.

First Hopeful Follower:

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him,I will follow You wherever You go.”

And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

What brings you security? I find a sense of security in knowing exactly how I will be provided for and how things will turn out. It makes me uncomfortable to think I might not know what tomorrow brings: how finances will work out, what jobs may be available, will I look back and regret it… Yet, even Jesus says that this false sense of security could keep me from following Him. What I might think are necessities may not be so. Following Him means: trusting Him as provider, even with things that seem like a necessity. The Scripture says,

“Trust in the Lord with all our heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5,6)

Second Hopeful Follower:

And He said to another, “Follow Me.

But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”

 But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”

Who will take care of the family and their concerns? There is so many good things to do and so many needs to take care of. What if others think I am selfish, unyielding, or intolerant if I do not stay behind or do what is expected of me? I may even be misunderstood. Jesus exaggerates possibly, to show that being about His kingdom is a radical commitment. His ways are not necessarily the world’s ways. Are there others who are equipped  and can fulfill a task, get a job done or accomplish the work? Jesus suggests that these things could keep me behind and from doing the work He has for me. He wants me to be about His kingdom work. Can I trust Him with even with this situation? Even though there is family pressure to perform, load up the resume, make more money, or have certainty for the future, following Jesus means trusting Him and,  “as for you” going where He leads you. A follower follows Jesus and goes where He goes.

Third Hopeful Follower:

 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”

But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

What seems to be calling for my attention? It is easy to feel the pressure of the things that need to be accomplished or completed first. There are things I want to do. There are plans, additional education, finances, relationships, preparations…  I need to be more “responsible” with my time, my money, and my gifts. Maybe following Him is peculiar, crazy or seemingly irresponsible. But the distractions so easily, do no just cause me to look down for a moment like checking for a text, but lure me to look back.  The “look” soon becomes a long gaze. Jesus seems to know that looking back keeps me from following. He says to keep my eyes forward on Him and on His kingdom, not back on these other things. Jesus says, “Follow me,” first. Eyes forward.

Following His lead

As I listen in on the above conversation, I am reminded that I follow Jesus, a person, not just a nice idea or a good path. When some began to fall away, Jesus asks his disciples if they are going to leave also.  They respond by saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John6:68,69) They have been with Jesus and watched Him closely. They wanted to follow this Person. It wasn’t just a path they were saying yes to, it was the Messiah, the Christ. He is worth following.

Following takes us places

*Following Him offers open arms to forgive people we didn’t think we could forgive.

*Following Jesus opens our hands to give and share.  It is going with less, so you can give more.

*It changes our plans, going where He leads.

*It is trusting Him with the impossible.

*Following Him takes our feet to places that seem beyond our reach.

I have shared this story before, but I remember vividly stepping out and trusting God with something big. My husband and I sensed God leading us to take a team to Russia to open a new campus ministry with our two small children (ages 2 and 6 months).  It really did seem crazy (and I would not recommend it necessarily), but it was one of things we felt Him leading us to by faith. Could we follow Him? Family was skeptical and people asked, “Why? Are the kids going? Are you sure you want to go to Russia and with the kids?” There were so many unknowns.  “Who would go with us? Where would we live? It is so cold! What about the finances and our stuff? What if we get sick? And then there are holidays and just being away from the familiar.” As we followed Jesus, we saw Him provide financially and raise a team of seven students who were graduating: five guys my husband had led in bible study and two girls. God asked us to just take the next step and He would lead. Jesus by faith increased our faith. He took us to places we never dreamed and grew us in new and unexpected ways. It may appear to some as costly or foolish, but it is worth it.

What about you? It probably isn’t Russia you are facing, but what does it mean to follow Him today? As you step out in faith you step out to follow Him. Jesus says it is a radical commitment. However, following Him is not being left alone on some lonesome path, for He leads us and is with us. It is not being led to a dull and boring life, for abundant life is found in Him.  As we step out in faith, we are not just stepping onto an unknown path, but we are following a Person, the one who has the “words of eternal life.”  Next–Following Him: Going where He goes.

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 Overflow: allowing God’s ways to touch our lives and then our lives to pour out to others

Which of those three challenges above do you relate to most?

What step of faith is He asking you to trust Him with?

What does it mean for you to follow Him right now?

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